Belfast Telegraph

Russian Glamour girl Tushkanova sets pulses racing at Circuit of Ireland

By Sammy Hamill

Inessa Tushkanova was sitting quietly on a bench trying to review in-car footage of her trip over the shakedown stage, but she kept being interrupted. Everyone wanted a picture of her or a selfie with her.

The Russian-based glamour girl was in high demand in the quaint little Ballycultra Village in the Ulster Folk Park, which was the holding area ahead of the Circuit of Ireland qualifying stage yesterday.

She may make her living posing for men's magazines like Playboy and FHM, but she takes her rallying seriously.

And she wanted to study the footage from the in-car camera to see where she could be quicker when qualifying began.

But the interruptions kept coming, from TV crews wanting interviews, to fans keen to be pictured with her - even fellow drivers!

Did she mind? "No not really, I am used to it," she said.

"I would like to study the footage a bit more but I don't mind people coming for pictures. It shows they are interested."

And Tushkanova said she was happy to be in Northern Ireland for the first time.

"It is lovely here despite the weather which will make the rally very difficult," she said.

"It is all new to me, these tarmac stages. They can be very slippery and difficult to know what the grip from the tyres will be, but I am enjoying it. I think it will be a nice rally."

And it seems she can drive too. She went back out onto the qualifying stage in her Mitsubishi Evo to set the second best time in her production class.

Also on the celebrity front, film star Idris Elba will miss the first day of the rally.

Due to drive a Ford Fiesta as part of a new documentary series for the Discovery Channel, the Nelson Mandela star has had to delay his arrival due to filming commitments for the TV series Luther.

"Unfortunately, he is filming right up until Friday and won't make it for the first day," explained co-driver Michael Orr. "But we have been given permission to join in on Saturday so, fingers crossed, there won't be any flight delays."

Meanwhile, in a significant change to the line-up for the National rally, Northern Ireland championship contender Alan Carmichael has switched from the WRC Mini he usually drives to a Subaru. He will be on board the McKinstry Motorsport team's S8 Impreza, lining up at No.5.

Kenny McKinstry himself starts at No.3 behind Irish Tarmac champion Declan Boyle and five-times Circuit winner Derek McGarrity, all in Subarus.

Highlight of the rally tonight will be the TT commemorative stage through Newtownards, starting at 6-30pm. Last year over 20,000 people packed into the town to watch it.

Belfast Telegraph


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